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Author Topic: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"  (Read 40021 times)

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Offline GSchnitzer

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#7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« on: November 06, 2007, 01:55:16 pm »
Periodically, we see a small portable device about the size of a telephone answering machine that is seen sitting on a tabletop or is sometimes being carried around by crewmembers.  This device is so non-descript, it’s never been given a name—not even in non-dialog script commentary.  Star Trek prop aficionados have been calling these things Task Monitors—which seems an innocuous enough term.

Edit: Actually, although folks have been calling these things "Task Monitors," it's not correct that these things have had no mention in Star Trek scripts.  In this contraption's first apperaance in "Mudd's Women," the script has the following comment:

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM - ANGLE ON RECORDER

The recorder light on, a hand adjusting it as we hear:

     KIRK'S VOICE

...on star date thirteen twenty-
nine point two... on board the
U.S.S. Enterprise in compliance
with Article Nine, the Uniform
Code of Interplanetary Justice.
Mister Spock--


So this device, at least in "Mudd's Women" was a "Recorder" meant to record the official procedings against Harcourt Fenton Mudd (alias Leo Walsh).

 
The first time we see one of these Task Monitors is in “Mudd’s Women.”  It’s on the table in front of Mr. Scott during a meeting with Harry Mudd and his “cargo” of women.  Since it sits there relatively inertly, perhaps it is monitoring or recording the meeting somehow—which is, I suppose, how the name for this prop developed. [See above.]  Here’s a shot from "Mudd's Women:"





The next time we see the Task Monitor is in “The Man Trap.”  It sits in front of Captain Kirk during a meeting with his senior staff and Professor Crater.  It seems to be performing the same function as in “Mudd’s Women:” monitoring or recording the meeting—but who knows for sure, of course.









At any rate, here’s my Task Monitor prop replica:



It’s not much to look at, really: just a black box, red edging, silver wheel controls, yellowish buttons, and a light.  This is elegant 23rd Century technology at its finest.

Actually, in order to try to add to the Star Trek universe a bit, I’m speculating that maybe these things come in different colors (although we never actually saw anything other than the red-edged Task Monitor).  So I had a Task Monitor made that might be used by folks in the green-gold Command Division:



I also had a Task Monitor made that might be used by folks in the blue Sciences Division:



The Task Monitor prop was actually revised a little bit towards the end of the First Season: a small sheet of stainless steel was added to the top of the device.  This would permit the user to carry around the small magnetic "jumper" blocks.  You can see this revised Recorder/Task Monitor in "Taste of Armageddon:"



...and in "This Side of Paradise:"
   



...and in "Errand of Mercy:"



It was revised again at the beginning of the Second Season.  I’ll get more into the revised version (maybe we should call the newer ones the “Mark II Task Monitors”) in another post to the forum at a later date.  In the meantime, here are all three of my “Mark I Task Monitors” together:



Like always, you can see a little slide show that rotates through these images at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/10901121@N06/sets/72157602963183842/show/


Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland
« Last Edit: July 11, 2008, 03:07:54 pm by GSchnitzer »


Gregory L. Schnitzer, RN

Offline Kapitaen Stephan

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2007, 02:06:05 pm »
Greg, those things are looking great.

Always amazing how you obtain/create those items.

I don`t know about those different colors for the different ships dempartments. I think the red color on the original "Task Monitor" was used because this color is repeated often on the old Star Trek Sets. Red and Black.

Just my 2 cents.

Looking forward seeing this items in "action" on future episodes.

-Stephan

Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2007, 02:26:23 pm »
Stephan:

Yes, you're right: the red on the Task Monitor is that same ol' ubiqutious red you see everywhere in the Star Trek universe.  I'm pretty sure that the original red color was just the same ol' red they always use; it wasn't meant to imply the "Engineering/Security" division.  In fact, as we'll see when I show you the "Mark II Task Monitors" from the Second and Thrid Seasons, the device was used in Sickbay--and Doctor McCoy even takes one with him down to the surface of a planet when he beams down.  So, science/medical people can and did use the red-edged device and din't need their own special blue-edged Task Monitors.

Nevertheless, I hate just flawlessly re-creating props from the original series.  (Well, I don't hate it; I actually love it.)  But I want to add to the Star Trek universe a bit--in a way that is plausible and in a way that won't be too annoying to hardcore Star Trek aficianados (just like I did with the "jumper blocks" by creating colors that were never actually seen).  So I thought the command and science Task Monitors might be fun; from a New Voyages standpoint, we might not ever even use them.  (Mostly, all my props are to amuse and enterain me!)  Interestingly enough though, my prop maker thought just as you did and he wasn't wild about deviating from the true, original, ordained-by-God color of the actual Task Monitor prop.

So, in my informal poll, I'll put you down in the "not wild about different colored Task Monitors" column. ;)

Thanks for your input; best wishes.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland   


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Offline lizhume

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2007, 03:42:59 pm »
I think the different colors work fine in the Trek-verse.  Perhaps the colors are for not just the department you work in, but for the department's function.  Similar to TNG tricorders, there was one that was a medical tricorder and one that was a scientific/engineering tricorder.  Perhaps the task monitor in blue would do something more scientific related, gold would be command area related, and red would be everything else.  Or maybe the red was the most basic device, usable for any task.  Then the blue for more defined tasks and finally the gold.  Of course the blue and gold we would rarely see due to their specific functions.  Maybe we'd only see gold at Headquarters or the blue only in science labs.

That's just an idea I had and I think something along those lines would adequately explain seeing mainly the red task monitors.  I mean, some things we just never saw.  That doesn't mean they didn't exist, it just means they could appear in the future!

And to stick completely to topic, great prop!  I would think the base would be bulkier, almost like it was the base of those old GE radio alarm clocks from the 80s.  Are yours more streamlined?
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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2007, 05:05:11 pm »
Wow!Talk about blink your eyes and miss it!!Fantastic share GS!!!! ;) ;D
''And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes,i'll see you on the dark side of the moon.''


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Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2007, 05:51:23 pm »
I would think the base would be bulkier, almost like it was the base of those old GE radio alarm clocks from the 80s.  Are yours more streamlined?

Oh, Ye Of Little Faith:

My props are not more streamline; they are perfect replicas made from a mold of possibly a vintage-era variable speed Dictaphone machineEdit: It now appears that the source device for this prop has been found.  It is a vintage-era Westinghouse reading lamp/AM radio combination.  (The lamp part was cleverly built into the telescoping antenna but was removed for the prop and replaced with an orange "icecube" "gumdrop" button-light thing.)  Here are some shots of one of these original vintage Westinghouse reading lamp/AM radio combinations I picked up from a recent ebay auction:











   

Although I don't have the lighting right to match the screen shot, a three-quarter's view shows a truer comparison:   





Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 02:53:50 pm by GSchnitzer »


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Offline Tony F

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2007, 06:06:29 pm »
             
Its been a while....but

         I  may have actually worked on one of those....correct me if IM wrong..
but the black plastic is a door under which is a Reel to Reel tape recorder device with
small 3 inch reels
There is a foot switch that goes to it that plugs on the back...and this device contained 2 12AX7 Vacuum Tubes....Are we talking about the same unit?


Tony
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Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 09:15:51 pm »
Tony:

I'm not sure about the story behind this device.  It sounds like you are probably right on all counts, but actually this isn't a vintage-era device that's been "propified."  It's actually made from a mold that was taken from the original prop and then "propified" (painted, lights and buttons added, etc.).  So I actually don't know too many details about what this thing was originally.  But like I say, you're probably right; if there are any long-time transcriptionists out there, they might recognize it.

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland   
« Last Edit: November 06, 2007, 09:50:11 pm by GSchnitzer »


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Offline VTtrekfan

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2007, 06:41:32 am »
It's actually an Atari. The briefing room was a great place to play Space Invaders when there werent any REAL ones to deal with!
Interesting prop though....one of those that are super easy to miss...cuz i've never taken notice of it...ever. Cool find.


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Offline lizhume

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 08:49:48 am »
I would think the base would be bulkier, almost like it was the base of those old GE radio alarm clocks from the 80s.  Are yours more streamlined?

Oh, Ye Of Little Faith:

My props are not more streamline; they are perfect replicas made from a mold of a vintage-era variable speed Dictaphone machine.  Although I don't have the lighting right to match the screen shot, a three- quarter's view shows a truer comparison:   



Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland

Oh, okay!  It was just the angle of the original photos.  I wasn't sure if the base was smaller or not.  This surely answers the question.  Thanks!

I have done transcription work before... the dictaphone devices haven't changed too much in the many years.  It still looks familiar to me, even though I think it looks like those old alarm clock radios I grew up with.  :lol:
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Offline trekminal

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2007, 10:52:39 am »
This artifact is similar to my first and old Supra 2400bps analog modem, except for the big light in the upper side.
Ahhhh... these old analog years... ;D
Fernando

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Re: #7 Prop: "Task Monitors"
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2012, 10:47:55 am »
I would think the base would be bulkier, almost like it was the base of those old GE radio alarm clocks from the 80s.  Are yours more streamlined?

Oh, Ye Of Little Faith:

My props are not more streamline; they are perfect replicas made from a mold of possibly a vintage-era variable speed Dictaphone machineEdit: It now appears that the source device for this prop has been found.  It is a vintage-era Westinghouse reading lamp/AM radio combination.  (The lamp part was cleverly built into the telescoping antenna but was removed for the prop and replaced with an orange "icecube" "gumdrop" button-light thing.)  Here are some shots of one of these original vintage Westinghouse reading lamp/AM radio combinations I picked up from a recent ebay auction:











   

Although I don't have the lighting right to match the screen shot, a three-quarter's view shows a truer comparison:   





Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland

I got a beat up one that is not exactly like the show used one-it has a clock on it too.  The lamp portion was reused for the Alternative Factor and Dagger of the Mind



Greg-any ideas on how ti dismantle it?  There are a couple of small hex bolts on the bottom I might be able to ratchet out...

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